The Ford Ranger finally came home from its eight-year overseas stay last year. We couldn’t wait to test it and immediately dropped it into our Farm Truck comparison, in which we put a $43,695 2019 Ford Ranger Lariat 4×4 up against a 2019 Chevrolet Colorado Z71, 2019 Honda Ridgeline Black Edition, and 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road. After our testing, the one question we all asked about the Ranger was, “Is this really what we’ve been waiting for?” Aside from its powertrain, the Ranger felt every one of its eight years old, with awful body control, a cramped, rental-grade interior, and quality not befitting its price.
Recently, though, we had a chance to test a bare-bones, $29,445 2019 Ranger XL STX SuperCab 4×2, and we think we stumbled upon the sweet spot in the Ranger lineup. Here’s why:
When it comes to midsize pickup trucks, most of the time you’re better off skipping the base engine. Chevy, GMC, Nissan, and Toyota all offer naturally aspirated four-cylinders in varying levels of wheeziness as standard on their trucks. Ford got a lot of things wrong in importing the Ranger to the U.S., but to its credit, it really got was its powertrain right. Making 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, the Ranger’s standard 2.3-liter turbocharged I-4 is among the most powerful in the segment. It’s also paired with the most modern transmission in the segment, a 10-speed automatic that has dedicated sport and tow/haul modes. In a bare-bones truck like this extended cab Ranger XL STX, that makes for a pretty quick truck; it hustles from 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and through the quarter mile in 14.9 seconds at 92.9 mph.
Thanks to its powerful standard engine, its wide and deep 6-foot bed, and lack of extra features, the base Ranger SuperCab 4×2 makes a great work truck. Our tester’s payload capacity was 1,860 pounds—more than some heavily optioned half-ton trucks—and it’s capable of towing up to 7,500 pounds.
The Ranger feels more than up to the task of working. With 1,000 pounds of payload in the bed, it accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, and it’ll run a 15.5-second quarter mile at 89.1 mph. When hitched to a 4,000-pound trailer, the Ranger performed well, too. It accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 12.5 seconds, and it ran a 19.1-second quarter mile at 72.4 mph.
It’s Cheap (If You Skip the Options)
Modern pickup trucks are extraordinarily expensive. Back in 1983, its first year of production, a brand-new Ranger started at $6,203, which is about $16,000 in 2019 dollars when accounting for inflation. Nowadays the average transaction price for a midsize pickup truck is cresting $33,000, so our Ranger’s $27,625 base price and $29,445 as-tested price seem like bargains. True, you don’t get anything in the way of creature comforts, but if you’re looking for nothing more than a simple, honest, affordable work truck to add to your garage, the Ranger XL STX 4×2 is worth considering.